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Q & A with Jennifer Rominiecki, President & CEO of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

J.Rominiecki-final2Jennifer O. Rominiecki possesses nearly twenty years of varied and senior-level management experience at major, audience-driven, and complex New York City cultural institutions with educational missions and historic preservation aspects.

Rominiecki served The New York Botanical Garden—one of the world’s most dynamic botanical gardens ‎and research institutions—for 15 years in increasing roles of responsibility. As the Garden’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Special Assistant to the President‎, she was involved in many aspects of the organization’s management. She was also responsible for oversight of the Garden’s seven-year campaign to raise $479 million in capital, operating, and endowment support.

Earlier in her career, Rominiecki held key positions at The Metropolitan Opera and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Art History and English from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with Honors in Art History.

Rominiecki is joined here in Sarasota by her husband Robert and their two boys.

How important are community events like the “Plant & Garden Festival” to a garden’s relationship with its community?

Gardens, like art, do not have to be explained as much as experienced. Obviously with greater knowledge comes deeper understanding. But the first step is having access and being able to appreciate the experience. Festivals and community events give us a chance to open our doors in an informal way that invites diverse attendance. Once you have stepped into a botanical garden for the first time, we hope that experience will make you want to return often.

What got you involved in public gardens such as Selby and The New York Botanical Garden?

Coming from a background in art museums and cultural institutions, I was intrigued by the way that The New York Botanical Garden operated as a “Museum of Plants” featuring a different type of living art. I became quite passionate about the way horticulture and art can combine in an interdisciplinary way. During my fifteen years at The New York Botanical Garden, I also became fascinated with the institution’s work in plant research and conservation, as well as children’s education. Selby Gardens has a similar, multi-faceted mission and the chance to lead the organization and apply my direct experience was just the opportunity I was looking for.

What important roles do public botanical gardens play peoples’ lives in the 21st century?

Today, our social interactions are much more technology driven and that trend can only be expected to continue. Nature is alive and public gardens give us a chance to renew and reconnect with what makes us human. On any given day, gardens can provide beauty, tranquility, nutrition, inspiration, and healing, while bringing people together, and offering contentment and fulfillment in very tangible ways. As technology advances, the role that public botanical gardens play in providing an escape from technology will only become more vital.

After you meet the community (welcome to Sarasota by the way), what are some of your short-term and long-term goals for the year?

I feel very fortunate to be coming into an organization that’s at the top of its game and is positioned to realize incredible potential. Selby Gardens has obviously been well cared for and loved. My first order of business will be getting better acquainted with all of the exceptional professionals, volunteers, and community leaders who have been essential to the advancement of the Gardens and then work with them to capitalize and expand on the momentum already underway.

Do you imagine expanding the Selby Garden’s event calendar to have more educational and public entertainment events?

I am interested in helping take Selby Gardens to the next level, and that means looking at how we can further expand on what’s working, creating dynamic partnerships and initiatives that will attract new audiences, and building infrastructure and resources to provide for long-term, sustainable future success.